DOHR is a project that creates and assesses virtual reality oral histories for students to address the historical harms of racism. The Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children (NSHCC) opened in 1921 as a welfare institution for black children who were segregated from white-only welfare institutions. Residents suffered the effects of institutionalized racism and abuse during the 70 years of its operation. In 2014, Premier McNeil apologized to the former residents and committed to a public inquiry.

The NSHCC Restorative Inquiry, formally launched in October 2015, has as its mandate to “examine the experience of the NSHCC as part of the history and legacy of systemic and institutionalized racism” (Province of NS, 2015a: 4). A goal of the Inquiry is to educate the public about the experiences of former residents to support reconciliation between African Nova Scotians and other Nova Scotians (Province of NS, 2015a: 26). DOHR is a community-based partnership supported by a three-year Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada grant that supports the education work of the Inquiry. DOHR’s overall goal is to develop and assess virtual storytelling about the NSHCC as a form of reconciliation education.

Our primary objectives

To create virtual reality oral histories with three former residents to be accompanied by a curricular unit that will be piloted in two school boards

To assess if and how virtual storytelling develops students’ historical thinking skills, particularly ethical dimensions, fosters relational learning based on sustained encounters with each other and with oppressive formations, and supports culturally relevant learning by raising students’ consciousness about social power relations past and present

To form a cross-disciplinary and cross-sector collaboration whose research shines light on the history of African Nova Scotians and the role of storytelling to reckon with the past and disseminates this knowledge with stakeholders communities.